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The Princess and the Goblin (1872)

by George MacDonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Princess and the Goblin (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,308601,894 (4.01)104
A little princess is protected by her friend Curdie from the goblin miners who live beneath the castle.
  1. 10
    The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver (Inky_Fingers)
    Inky_Fingers: There might be more than a hundred years separating these two books, but I kept thinking of The Princess and the Goblin as I was reading The Spindlers. There is a bit of plot similarity with both girls lost in a magical underground world, but there are also similarities in the beauty of the language and in taking abstract concepts like dreams and giving them solid form.… (more)
  2. 10
    At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (Candie.London)
  3. 00
    The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (infiniteletters)
  4. 00
    The Tree That Sat Down by Beverley Nichols (bookel)

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» See also 104 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Read on Le Guin's recommendation. I liked this well enough, and it's noteworthy for its place in history, but I wouldn't rush to read this to a 21st century kid. ( )
  mmparker | Oct 24, 2023 |
A hidden stairway to a secret room leads a little princess to a mysterious but charming silver-haired woman who gives her a magic ring to use in time of trouble. Trouble, the little princess soon learns, takes the shape of a group of devilish goblins who live in the ore-rich subterranean caverns of a nearby mountain.

Despising royalty and all their descendants (including the little princess), these misshapen creatures plot to kidnap the little girl and flood the mines. Their efforts, however, are frustrated when the princess, with the help of a fearless and resourceful young miner lad named Curdie, outwit these mischievous little people and learn -- along the way -- some valuable lessons about bravery and loyalty.
  PlumfieldCH | Oct 12, 2023 |

George Macdonald's Phantastes is one of my favourite books. This is a different beast, being one of his later works aimed at a much younger audience. He isn't such a well-known name today but he was a great influence on the likes of Lewis Carol, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and is owed a lot. His 'fantasy' has much more in common with 'fairy tales', but his work acted as a sort of bridge between the two.

The Princess and the Goblin is a charming and simple tale that quickly betrays itself as a children's story with its endearing simplicity. It is written with care and creative readable prose that conjures magic in the mind. I like how MacDonald still drops allegory in a way that can speak to the child but also challenge the adult to think a little deeper, nor does he shy from some subtle blows pertaining to the darker side of life. These are handled with absolute care, to a point that a child would only perceive it should they have the maturity to handle it. That's the kind of writing I can admire, even as an adult. Here's such an example:

After they had been alone for a little while, she thought of what she had resolved to ask him.

'Please, king-papa,' she said, 'Will you tell me where I got this pretty ring? I can't remember.'

The king looked at it. A strange beautiful smile spread like sunshine over his face, and an answering smile, but at the same time a questioning one, spread like moonlight over Irene's.

'It was your queen-mamma's once,' he said.

'And why isn't it hers now?' asked Irene.

'She does not want it now,' said the king, looking grave.

'Why doesn't she want it now?'

'Because she's gone where all those rings are made.'

'And when shall I see her?' asked the princess.

'Not for some time yet,' answered the king, and the tears came into his eyes.

The book also houses a touch of Alice in Wonderland, though it doesn't go nearly so deep down the rabbit hole. Carol would have drawn from MacDonald and indeed the latter was instrumental in its publication, but The Princess and the Goblin came after and I dare say he drew a bit from Carol in turn. It's also quite easy to see how this simple story would act as a precursor to the likes of The Hobbit; there's something faintly Tolkien-esque about its rhymes and portrayal of goblins.

A much less likely thing to suggest is the possibility that this influenced H. G. Wells, who was no stranger to fantasy and wrote a couple of stories playing on the tropes himself. The goblin origins described here I thought to be reminiscent of the origins of the Morlocks in The Time Machine (both being a deformed species of human, originating from a lower class that are driven underground and transformed over time by their dark surroundings). The latter was Wells' debut and wouldn't be written until two decades later. That same year Wells penned the lesser known The Wonderful Visit which he wrote of to MacDonald, drawing parallels between his own novella and MacDonald's adult fairie novel, Lilith. ( )
  TheScribblingMan | Jul 29, 2023 |
This is the cutest book. An absolute fun story. The author's voice is bright and pleasant, making you feel like a child being told a marvelous bedtime story by Grandpa. Princess Irene comes across as a good, caring girl; wholey adorable. And the boy, Curdie, is a brave, charming, perfect gentleman. I only hope I don't have nightmares staring those ghastly goblins! ( )
  REGoodrich | Jun 22, 2023 |
OK story if somewhat simple and old-fashioned. I heard it was an inspiration for Tolkien. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
MacDonald, GeorgeAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aiken, JoanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andronic, MadalinaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Álvarez de Toledo, PabloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DuPrau, JeanneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elbe, BrigitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Folkard, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Folkard, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goble, WarwickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guin, Ursula K. LeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Joyce, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kramer, DaveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, NaomiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martín Gaite, CarmenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norton, AndreAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parry, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Jessie WillcoxIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Joseph A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tatar, MariaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, LlewellynIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitcomb, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was once a little princess whose father was king over a great country full of mountains and valleys.
Introduction: A story about goblins is bound to be strange.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A little princess is protected by her friend Curdie from the goblin miners who live beneath the castle.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100844, 140010940X


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